What is it? The Mazda CX-5 replaces the long-in-the-tooth and recently departed Tribute, a rebadged Ford Escape. It just so happens that an all-new Ford Escape is also being introduced at the LA Auto Show. This time the two competing models are not related, as the once entwined automakers go their own way.
The CX-5 is powered by a new direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. With 155 horsepower, the CX-5 enters the small SUV segment with some 30 hp deficit against some competitors, but the Mazda folks say that the sport-cute's lower weight won't make drivers feel shortchanged. Mazda also says that the CX-5 emphasizes dynamic styling and sporty handling without sacrificing comfort or fuel economy.
Three trim lines will be available: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring with either front or AWD.
What is new or notable? The CX-5 is a showcase for Mazda's Skyactiv technology, a holistic approach designed to save fuel by optimizing the all-new engine and transmissions, as well as weight savings. In many ways, Skyactiv is a concept reminiscent of BMW's "efficient dynamics." Mazda admits that developing a hybrid or another more flamboyant green technology is beyond the small company's resources. The CX-5 is a fresh start from the ground up and will spawn future derivatives.
CR’s take: Sized like a Honda CR-V, though arguably more stylish, the CX-5 may have stronger appeal to small SUV shoppers than the previous, more trucklike Tribute.
When will it be available? March 2012.